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June 19, 2009
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Victor Davis Hanson: Understanding Obamaworld

Are you confused by all that has changed since President Barack Obama took office in January? If so, you're not alone. Perhaps, though, this handy guide to Age of Obama "logic" might be of some assistance.

1. The Budget. Wanting to cut $17 billion from the budget, as President Obama has promised, is proof of financial responsibility. Borrowing $1.84 trillion this year for new programs is "stimulus." The old phrase "out-of-control spending" is inoperative.

2. Unemployment. The number of jobs theoretically saved, or created, by new government policies -- not the actual percentage of Americans out of work, or the total number of jobs lost -- is now the far better indicator of unemployment.

3. The Private Sector. Nationalizing much of the auto and financial industries, while regulating executive compensation, is an indication of our new government's repeatedly stated reluctance to interfere in the private sector.

4. Race and Gender. Not what is said but who says it and about whom reveals racism and sexism. For example, an Hispanic female judge isn't being offensive if she states that Latinas are inherently better judges than white males.

5. Random violence. Some assassinations represent larger American pathologies, but others do not. When a crazed lone gunman murders someone outside the Holocaust Museum or shoots an abortion doctor, we should worry about growing right-wing and Christian extremism. But when an African-American Muslim convert brags about his murder of a military recruitment officer or an Islamic group plots to kill Jews and blow up a military jet, these are largely isolated incidents without larger relevance.

6. Terrorism. Acts of terror disappeared about six months ago. Thankfully, we live now in an age where there will be -- in the new vocabulary of the Obama administration -- only occasional "overseas contingency operations" in which we may be forced to hold a few "detainees." At the same time, ongoing military tribunals, renditions, wiretaps, phone intercepts and predator-drone assassinations are no longer threats to the Constitution. And just saying you're going to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay is proof that it is almost closed.

7. Iraq. The once-despised Iraq war thankfully ended around Jan. 20, 2009, and has now transformed into a noble experiment that is fanning winds of change throughout the Middle East. There will be no need for any more Hollywood cinema exposes of American wartime crimes in Iraq with titles like "Rendition," "Redacted," "Lions for Lambs" and "Stop-Loss."

8. The West. Western values and history aren't apparently that special or unique. As President Obama told the world during his recent speech in Cairo, the Renaissance and Enlightenment were, in fact, fueled by a brilliant Islamic culture, responsible for landmark discoveries in mathematics, science and medicine. Slavery in America ended without violence. Mistreatment of women and religious intolerance in the Middle East have comparable parallels in America.

9. Media. The media are disinterested and professional observers of the present administration. When television anchormen and senior magazine editors bow to the president, proclaim him a god or feel tingling in the legs when he speaks, it is quite normal.

10. George W. Bush. Former President Bush did all sorts of bad things to the United States that only now we are learning will take at least eight years to sort out. "Bush did it" for the next decade will continue to explain the growing unemployment rate, the most recent deficit, the new round of tensions with Iran and North Korea, and the growing global unrest from the Middle East to South America.

Once we remember and accept the logic of the above, then almost everything about this Age of Obama begins to make perfect sense.

(Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. You can reach him by e-mailing

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The Union Updated Jun 19, 2009 01:39AM Published Jun 19, 2009 01:38AM Copyright 2009 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.